Google is revolutionising academic research
Love it or hate it, you can’t say that Google isn’t responsible for some genuinely incredible – revolutionary – changes.
Google announced today the launch of Google Ngram viewer. Freely available for use, and the data openly available for download.
What it does? Allow the statistical analysis of 4% of the total number of books ever published.
Google has been digitising books at a rapid rate since 2004, and now has a massive amount of data available. And combined with Google’s search technology, the potential for historical analysis is incredible.
It won’t necessarily help you make money online, but you’ve got to hand it to Google on this one…
Some snippets from The Guardian’s coverage of the release:
“The database of 500bn words is thousands of times bigger than any existing research tool, with a sequence of letters that is 1,000 times longer than the human genome… In science, huge datasets which people have used super-computing on have led to some fascinating new discoveries that otherwise wouldn’t be possible.”
“Around 8,500 new words enter the English language every year and the lexicon grew by 70% between 1950 and 2000.”
“By looking at the frequency of famous people’s names in literature, they showed that celebrities born in the mid-20th century tended to be younger and more famous than those of the 19th century, but their fame lasted for a shorter period of time. By 1950, celebrities were achieving fame, on average, when they were 29, compared with 43 for celebrities around 1800. ‘People are getting more famous than ever before,” wrote the researchers, “but are being forgotten more rapidly than ever.'”
The potential for new discoveries about language and history is enormous…
These are exciting times!